How is Medea a proto-feminist play?

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Medea has agency, which is a very important feminist value, and one that was notable by its absence in ancient times. Abandoned by her lover, Jason, and having turned her back on her homeland, Medea is all alone in the world. Without a man or an extended family network to protect her, Medea finds herself in a very dangerous situation indeed.

In ancient Greece, one's identity was defined to a large extent by one's membership of collective entities such as family, demos, and city-state. Without this membership, people were essentially non-persons, outcasts from respectable society. That's precisely the situation that Medea finds herself in.

Yet instead of succumbing to the patriarchal values of Greek society Medea does something quite extraordinary, not to mention proto-feminist: she forges her own identity. Such rampant individualism would've been rare enough for a man at that time; for a woman it was virtually unheard-of.

Medea consciously sets out to live her life as an individual just...

(The entire section contains 8 answers and 1220 words.)

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